As part of a new campaign for Legal and General, I was recently asked the question “what would you say to your younger self?”
Tough one, isn’t it? We all have regrets in life and we all have moments that we are proud of. There’s an awful lot of stuff that I would tell myself, if I could go back in time.
One thing stands out above everything else.
Believe in yourself and work hard. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect anybody else to.
Readers of this blog know that I love to bowl. I’ve played since I was 8 years old and although I’d had my fair share of 200+ games and was a pretty decent spare shooter, it wasn’t until moving to Northern Ireland in 2004 that I began to up my game. As a junior, I’d won a few leagues and a few trophies in tournaments and averaged about 170. Not bad at all, but certainly nothing special. I’d also struggled against having my legs in plaster due to tendon issues and some less than encouraging comments.
Let’s face it, most teenagers lack in self confidence, especially teenage girls and I was no exception. If you told me I was crap, I’d believe it. If you said something remotely critical, I’d take it to heart. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with some constructive criticism but to tell a 13 year old girl that she’ll never bowl even a 250 game in her life is a little harsh. Telling that same 13 year old girl that she is unlikely to ever bowl for her county is also not very encouraging. Note, I said county, not even country. As a result, I believed that I was rubbish and would often bowl poorly at tournaments, after getting upset after poor starts.
I’m not advocating filling people with hot air, you understand. But some encouragement wouldn’t go amiss.
In Northern Ireland, away from all of that, I started to bowl more. Oh sure, I still used to get frustrated and upset when things went wrong, but my scores improved. I held a league average of 206. I bowled my first 299 game. I started to win ranking events.
In 2005, although the ranking tour hadn’t gone brilliantly, it hadn’t gone badly and I started to think that I might get to play internationally. In September 2005, I laced up my shoes in Stuttgart for the European Cup for Individuals. Averaging 186 for the tournament may not have set the world alight, but it was my first ever experience playing on dual patterns and my first ever international. I was pleased with the experience and wanted to do it again.
2007 was my last realistic shot at bowling in the World Cup and I wanted it so badly it hurt. I knew I had a good chance of winning, but I also knew that there were a couple of other women who were more than capable of bowling the scores needed to win the qualifier. Four games in, my scores were mediocre, at best.
“Believe in yourself. Believe you can win. That’s the only way you can bounce back. You can win. It’s not over.”
I repeated that to myself in my head over and over. I don’t think I’d ever wanted anything so badly in my life. Four games later, I’d done enough to win and go to the World Cup in St Petersburg.
In 2011, I completed my first marathon. I had a lot of people tell me I wouldn’t do it. I was even told “can’t you pretend to be sick that day?” I believed in myself and I did it.
If I could go back in time, I would tell that 13 year old she needed to believe in herself, as belief and hard work would make her achieve.
The advice applies to job interviews and many other things. After all, if you don’t believe you’re the best fit for the job, how are you going to convince your new employer? If you don’t believe you can run a marathon, how are you going to convince others to support you?
Work hard and believe.
Thanks Joe Blogs Network for asking me to take part in this campaign.